After making it to Britain and Canadian parliaments, Punjabis are making their presence felt even in the Australian elections.
Jagjit Singh “Jag” Chugha (39) is first Punjabi to stand in the contest coming up on September 7 for key parliamentary positions Down Under. The Liberal Party candidate for the federal seat of Scullin had migrated from Moga in 1976. There was no pre-selection in his case.
Both Liberal Party and Labour have fielded Indian-origin candidates. Jag Chugha is one of the three. Having done all his studies in Australia, earned degrees in laws and commerce, and worked as lawyer for more than 15 years, he now is senior counsel at a top 100 Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listed company.
“Politics is in my family,” said Chugha, over telephone from Australia. His father, Pritam Singh Chugha, stood in the last state elections in Australia. “He introduced me to the Liberal Party several years ago. I was his campaign director, which strengthened my ties with the party, and I went on to build its Thomastown branch and become its chairman.”
Chugha is also a businessman with interests in restaurants, wholesale grocery, manufacturing and flour mills in Australia. “I am also a migration agent, running VIP Student Migration. My family has business background in India and it established one of the first grocery businesses in Australia,” he added.
The Scullin, from where he is contesting, is a 169-square-kilometre constituency that includes Victoria state’s Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen, Hurstbridge, Plenty, Yarrambat, Watsonia North, Bundoora, Thomastown, Mill Park, Lalor, Epping, South Morang and Wollert suburbs. The issue are cost of living, cost of doing business, and job security.
The other Indian-origin candidates in the race are Shilpa Hegde of Liberal Party, from Wills, and Manoj Kumar of Labour Party, from Manzies (Victoria). Shilpa migrated from Bengaluru in 2001 and Manoj is from Uttar Pradesh originally.